[Rachel Manzo] is "perhaps the least involved and least culpable" of the Bonusgate defendants who have appeared before [Dauphin County Common Pleas Judge Richard Lewis]. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 8/10/11)
All due respect, Your Honor, but how the hell would you know?
You never heard one word of testimony or laid eyes on a single piece of evidence in the Commonwealth's 12-count felony case against Mrs. Manzo.
Is there a crystal ball hidden beneath those robes? Or do you just feel somehow that she was the "least involved?"
What we really want to know is how you can say that someone who pleaded guilty to involvement in a crime was "less involved and less culpable" than people who were actually found not guilty of that same crime?
And everyone's buying it?
The problem here is everyone knows that the charges against Mrs. Manzo were withdrawn in exchange for her husband's testimony. Not her own - she never testified in the case. But prosecutors for some reason can't admit that they used charges against one person to leverage testimony from another.
Instead, Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina mumbles some unproveable nonsense about providing investigators with valuable information - so valuable, apparently, that it never was entered as evidence in a courtroom anywhere on this planet.
Fina admits that Mrs. Manzo participated in "a plan to distribute more than $1.8 million in tax dollars to House Democratic staffers as rewards for campaign work." She pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge in connection with that "plan."
Yet every staff member who went to trial on charges related to that "plan" was found not guilty of those charges.
Maybe Judge Lewis forgot that they were acquitted?
Either Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett erroneously charged Mrs. Manzo with 12 unwarranted felony counts, or he believed she was guilty of serious crimes and let her off for reasons other than her own lack of culpability.
If the former is true, the prosecutor screwed up. If the latter is true, the judge screwed up. But no one seems to be owning up to either one.
The fact that neither the judge nor the prosecutor can admit the truth about Mrs. Manzo's deal speaks volumes.